subtitle: It’s 2011, we can fix it
Sometimes it feels like we’re still failing to solve the basic problems time after time. Can I present my first list of things we really shouldn’t be launching without solving.
Further suggestions welcome.
- Be respectful of users who will accept they get content free because of it, but don’t be silly (e.g. don’t show me adverts then tell me I’m geo-blocked from the actual content)
- Don’t auto play any video unless the page is a destination page for audio/video
- Make decent videos: owning Final Cut is not enough to make you a producer
- Don’t play background music, and if you do remember if I press mute between sessions
Authentication & Registration
- Let me skip registration until I really need to
- Allow people to login with google/yahoo/facebook accounts. Do not make me create a full account and connect it to facebook/google, make an account with that identifier and ask for the bare minimum extra.
- Don’t ask for more permissions than you need from Facebook and don’t ever post to my wall without permission
- If someone needs to authenticate, take them to where they were and not the home page
- Never store plaintext passwords (unbelievable this still deserves a mention)
Content sharing & Social-Media
- Give people tools to share, but stop nagging them: if it’s funny people will share. If they like it they will favourite or subscribe.
- Don’t call a blog a blog unless you’re engaging with comments. If you’re not going to do that don’t allow comments and call it News
- Don’t have a twitter account you’re not going to reply to people sending comments to but don’t reply to everyone mentioning something tangentially related to your brand name
- If you say something stupid: retract & apologise. Don’t start saying “your account was hacked”
- Don’t #obsessively #hash #tag
Dates & Times
- Include the day: I know I want to fly out on Sunday and back on Saturday so make that the date 4 months in the future.
- The web is international, so avoid 11/11/11: it’s perhaps wordy, but “Friday 11/Nov/2011” is unambiguous to english speakers.
- Make time-zones clear
- Avoid unless you have to, not just because of iOS users
- Degrade well without it
- If you can’t keep it up to date don’t put it up there: sure it’s frustrating that information isn’t visible, but even more so to be told “that’s out of date”
Geo & Mapping
- Accept partial postcodes or addresses in searches. Users are not always searching from a known address.
- I care about your opening hours: I care less about your ethics and principles
- Your address needs to be plaintext so i can copy the postcode into google maps
- Menus and price lists should just be HTML, and at a minimum a well converted PDF that I can copy from
- I don’t know what sector I am, I just want to see what laptops you have. Forcing me to choose a sector upfront makes me think I’m only going to see a subset of models. Offer me “extra services for large companies” but I just want to see your products.
- Have decent search. If I use google to find your content then you’ve failed. (use a google site search if you can’t/don’t want to)
- If you’re launching a new site is going to get any form of interest, turn the CDN on prior to launching. Have a scaling plan that means you bring up a load of Amazon instances. The cost of turning these on upfront is less than the press coverage that “the new Widget site that launched today fell over”
- If you’re using WordPress use one of the caching plug-ins
- Root level domain not working: example.com/stuff should work, even it’s a redirect to www.example.com/stuff
- Avoid ambiguous addresses: but if you have catch example.com/walkforlife and redirect to the correct example.com/walk4life
- If you provide a mobile version of your site at m.example.com, redirect me to the actual page I wanted and not the frontpage again.
- I shouldn’t ever see the underlying technology in URLs: clean ones look nicer and will give you better SEO, example.com/about/services and not example.com/viewgen/page.asp?pageid=123